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Clan MacPheeter
This account was kindly sent in by Katheleen

By Helen McPheeters Rice  1956
(Pages 1-14)

The Early Ancestry of the McPheeters families and their related lines can be traced back through Ireland to their original home in Scotland. The history of these families is closely linked with the early days of the Protestant movement in Scotland. The struggles of the new faith produced men of determination and fortitude., men who would sacrifice even their lives in defense of their convictions.. Among the clergy who were prominent in resisting coercion.. the Rutherfords and the Alliens were leaders in Scotland and England. The Campbells, Walkers, Logans, Moores and many others were staunch followers of this cause. During the religious troubles of Great Britain from the reign of Henry VIII to William III, these Scotch families chose to leave their native land rather than compromise their religious beliefs. North Ireland was convenient and available for settlement.

But their sojourn in Ireland was brief. They soon found again restraints against their religious observances; tithes and taxes were levied upon them to support an established church other than their own, and they were even threatened with physical violence by their unfriendly neighbors. In the midst of this animosity, they remained aloof from mixture with the Irish; hence the term "Scotch-Irish" denotes simply this group of Scotsmen who lived for a time in Ireland. Their quest for a permanent home finally led them to America.

The Scotch-Irish Settlers landed on the banks of the Delaware River.  Some chose to stay in what is now the state of Pennsylvania, but the majority found that they were still too close to their neighbors. Now we who are their descendants boast of our independence of spirit, self reliance, strict code of honor and many other admirable traits; yet we must also admit that these early settlers were noted for unbending stubbornness and sour temper. They just did not get along well with other people. So they pushed on farther into the interior and found the beautiful valley of the Shenandoah protected on both sides by mountain ranges, secluded and remote. It was here that they established their new home.

Located as they were., on the frontier, isolated from the rest of the colonies, these hardy people took care of themselves. They formed companies of volunteers and maintained them at their own expense scarcely recognized by the Virginia Assembly. They often had to defend themselves against the Indians; in the summer of 1758 alone there were 60 white persons massacred in their homes. These Scotch-Irish settlers supplied many experienced riflemen in the French and Indian Wars. Their knowledge and understanding of Indians and their familiarity with frontier environment made them valuable fighters.

The military record of the-Scotch-Irish of Augusta County, Virginia, during the Revolutionary War shows their staunch support of the cause for independence. For a time, their traditional urge of intense loyalty held them to the crown in spite of the injustices they had suffered in the past. But when they finally realized that it was time to join the other colonists in their resistance against the increasing oppression, they threw themselves into the fight with all the rock-bound determination for which they have always been justly famed.

One incident is related about Rev. Archibald Scott.  On a quiet Sunday evening, the inhabitants learned that the British were approaching Rockfish Gap.  Rev. Scott at once turned his meeting into a patriotic one, invoking his people "in thrilling tones to drive back the invader.”  He hurried the wives and daughters home to prepare their men. "They marched forth with the blessings and under the command of their patriotic pastor who hesitated not to exchange the Bible for the sword and saddle." (From "The Scotch-Irish Settlers in the Valley of the Virginia", an Alumni address at Washington College, Lexington, Virginia, by Christian of Staunton, published 1860.) Among the Scotch-Irish soldiers from Rev. Scott's congregation were doubtless several of the McPheeters family.

After the Revolutionary War, the call of the new lands beyond the Cumberland Mountains, coupled with economic developments, resulted in many of these Scotch-Irish-Americans again searching for new homes. Their routes led them into and through the area of the Cumberland Gap, some dropping down into the Tennessee Valley, but most of them into eastern and central Kentucky. A generation or so later many of them scattered into Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.

The Civil War or War Between the States again called McPheeters sons to their country's service. But this time their allegiance was divided. The location of each family's home determined its loyalty and cousins faced cousins in the battle. Fortunately, the remoteness of their homes in this still sparsely settled pioneer country had served to draw the families apart, and relationships and family lines had long since become almost legendary. From my own family records I have drawn the following story.

Dr. John Snyder McPheeters #293 wrote home from his camp with the Union Army at Vicksburg. In one of his letters he related that a darky working around the camp had asked if he were related to Theophilus McPheeters #W69 and his brother James #W71 living at Natchez, Mississippi. This negro had formerly been in their service and knew they had come from Virginia. No one in Dr. John McPheeters’ home in Indiana knew of these Natchez people. Dr. John's grandmother, widow of James McPheeters #19) replied that "Grandpa had an Uncle Robert living in Virginia and that is all they know of them. His wife's name was Scott." From this answer came valuable help in establishing our McPheeters line from the Virginia family.

Today there are McPheeters families all over the United States. While I have been able to trace most of them to known "trees", there are still a few that cannot be identified from the material at hand. Some of these families have come to America in more recent years than the colonial migrations, and it is interesting to note that they have come from the north part of Ireland. It is not improbable that we are all of common origin, even with differences in spelling the name. Perhaps someone after me will be interested in following this premise, and will go to Ireland to dig out the needed information. If it is you, I wish you the best of success in this most intriguing hobby.

The Ancestral Lines in Scotland which are claimed by the McPheeters family begin with John Rutherford. He married Isabella Allein and lived on the River Tweed in Scotland. Driven from their homes by religious persecution, they moved to County Down., Ireland: where they died in their eighties. Their eighth child was Katherine Rutherford who married John Walker in Wigton, Scotland, in 1702. They moved first to Newry, Ireland, then sailed for America, landing in Maryland on August 2, 1728. They settled in Chester County., Pennsylvania, where they died; both are buried at Nottingham Meeting House. The first of their eleven children was Elizabeth Walker, born April 1703. She married in Ireland John Campbellof Kirnan, heir of the Duke of Argyle, who had been banished from Scotland in April 1721. They came to America with Elizabeth's father and settled near Staunton, Virginia about 1744. Elizabeth died in 1787. The sixth of their nine children was Jane Campbell who married Alexander McPheeters #2.

The Origin of the McPheeters Name is attributed to one Peter Hume, a Scotch Highlander. He had several children by his first wife; after her death he married again and had one son, William. It seems that William Hume was not too happy with his older half-brothers and sisters and left home when quite young. He was called "MacPeter”, meaning "son of Peter". From him is descended the McPheeters family according to tradition. His son or grandson, William McPheeters, went to Ireland when about 16 years of age with several older brothers. The name of his first wife is not known and all of their children died young. He married Janet McClellan and they had three daughters and only one son who was eight years old when his father died. This son’s name was also William. He married Rebecca Thompson in Ireland and came to America about seven years later. While this colonist was not my ancestor, some account of his descendants is included in this genealogy.

Alexander McPheeters who came to America about the same time that William McPheeters did,, is referred to in old records as "a cousin of William". Though the term "cousin" was rather loosely used in those days, it is likely that Alexander's father and William's father were brothers. On this hypothesis we claim that this tradition of the origin of the McPheeters name applies to the ancestors of Alexander McPheeters as well as William McPheeters. There may have been other "cousins" of the McPheeters family who came to America in those early days. Occasionally a name is found in early records that cannot be connected with either the Alexander or William lines. 

Here is another phase of the genealogical puzzle that might be worked out by someone more enterprising than me.

The First Recorded Date Concerning Alexander McPheeters that this writer was able to find is August 13, 1747. In Augusta County, Virginia, Deed Book Volume 3. page 262, is recorded the deed to Alexander McFeeters for 10 pounds current money 303 acres in Beverly Manor, on the North Branch of Christy's Creek and described as follows: 1ying and being on a branch of Christy's Creek in Augusta County beginning at a black oak and hickory corner to Samuel Downey and John Turk run with Turks line due east 180 poles to a white oak and south 59 degrees east 14 poles to 2 black and one white oaks. North 26 degrees east 288 poles to a black oak on the top of a hill, thence north 64 degrees west 100 poles crossing the creek to two black oaks on a hill, south 60 degrees west 59 poles to a black oak two hickory saplings on McNabbs line., then with said line due south 96 poles crossing the creek to a black and white oak corner,, then south 49 degrees west 240 poles to the beginning."

This acreage, then, on Boy’s Run, a branch of Christian Creek in Augusta County., Virginia., was the ancestral homestead of our family. It lies about 10 miles south of Staunton. It was the heritage of Alexander #2 and at his death was willed to his youngest sons, Robert and James. James followed his two older brothers in their westward migration and sold his share of the old plantation to Robert in 1812. Robert and his descendants owned and lived on this land down through the generations. Finally 55 acres that had been laid off as a dower for Mary Jane Brown McPheeters were purchased in 1907 by Frank Wright, owner of the Beaconville Guernsey Farm. I talked to Mr. Wright on the phone in 1948 and he stated that none of the original buildings are left now. Soon after he purchased the property, he had the old log house torn down and a modern home built on the site.

The old log house on the McPheeters farm had been mistakenly said to be the William McPheeters home to which Mary Moore first returned after her captivity. The interesting story of her capture by the Indians and her stay with them until her release was finally obtained is related in a little book "Captives of Abb's Valley" by Brown-Woodworth published 1942. 

The will of the Scotch-Irish immigrant Alexander McPheeters was filed January 21, 1761 and proved May 9 of the same year, recorded in Will Book III, page 32. A complete copy of this will and the itemized appraisal of his estate are included in the chapter on "Documents".

This will gives us the only record of the names of Alexander's wife and daughters. The last named, Elizabeth Speers, might have been her married name, and the legacy of half of his "moveable" estate being divided between her and the widow might indicate that she made her home with her parents. What the widow's maiden name was, and what became of the daughters is not known.

Alexander McPheeters #2 was surely born in Ireland since his first son was born about 1756,but we have no proof. His birth date cannot be conjectured since the dates of his sisters is not known and even their order according to age is unknown. At the time of his father's death in 1761, Alexander #2 had a son Alexander. But another son ,John, was also born before that date and it seems a bit odd that he should not be mentioned in his grandfather's will along with his brother Alexander unless the perpetuation of the favored name especially met with the old man's favor. At any rate, we might assume from all this that Alexander #2 was born about 1725 or 1730.

Alexander #2 married Jane Campbell, thus bringing into the family the Rutherford-Walker-Campbell lines. The name of Campbell was common among the Scotch-Irish settlers and crosses the McPheeters lines in several generations. This is shown in the chapter on "Related Lines".

Alexander and Jane had eight children living at the time of his death in 1798, according to his will. This will and estate appraisal are also copied in full in the chapter on "Documents". By comparison with his father's estate, it will be seen that Alexander #2 had increased his heritage, Apparently he had also added to the plantation since his son James' share amounted to 215 acres when he sold out to his brother Robert.

Tombstone-hunting, sooner or later beckons the ancestor hunter. It may even get to-be an obsession and he will accumulate all sorts of equipment which he keeps handy in the trunk of his car. All he may need to put him in a trance is the sight of a weed-grown, neglected burial ground of apparently ancient vintage. Then he dons the hip boots to fight briars and possible reptiles, takes his wire brush in one hand, tracing paper in the other, and his notebook in his pocket and he is off again. Though the results are often negative, sometimes a very important stone is located. Frequently the information to be found on a monument is the only source for that individual's vital statistics.

In an effort to establish dates of the early generations of McPheeters', I investigated burial places in Augusta County, Virginia. There seemed to be two likely places where Alexander #1 and Alexander #2 might have been buried. The oldest plot was the Glebe Cemetery near North Mountain southwest of Staunton. This place is on the top of a knoll, surrounded by a fence. It had recently had some attention but was still rather brushy and desolate. There were not a great many stones, and some were broken or sunken below the lettering. The only stone that was of interest was that of William McPheeters, #W6. The other old burying ground was at the site of the old North Mountain Meeting House. This colonial church was abandoned when the Bethel congregation was formed and a new location chosen. Now there is no trace left of the old Meeting House and the burial ground is part of a pasture with a few stones sheltered by a clump of trees. Most of the stones were taken away in the 1930’s to be used in the foundation of a barn! So I still do not know where the first two Alexanders were buried but it is fairly safe to point to the Glebe or North Mountain.

Robert McPheeters #14 was the easiest to trace of the four sons and four daughters of Alexander #2 since he and his descendants stayed in Augusta County on the family plantation. He married Jane Scott, daughter of Rev. Archibald Scott, already mentioned. They had only one daughter who died young, and one son, Archibald Alexander McPheeters. For much of the information about his descendants, I am indebted to Duncan Scott McPheeters of Downer's Grove, Illinois. He not only had the family record pages from Robert McPheeters' Bible, but had a record of subsequent generations also.

Rev. Archibald Scott came from Ireland in 1763 while still in his teens. He married Frances Ramsey who lived only a short time after his death on, March 4., 1799. They left eight children; the eldest, Sarah (Jane) was only seventeen, but she kept the children together, winning the praise and admiration of the settlement. Eleven years later she married Robert McPheeters.

"Bethel and Her Ministers" written by Dr. Herbert O. Turner in 1946, relates the story of the Bethel Presbyterian Church. It was founded in 1779 as a successor to North Mountain and Brown's Meeting Houses. Rev. Scott was pastor during this transition, from 1778 to 1779. Robert McPheeters was an elder of this church. Dr. William McPheeters #W49 was pastor from 1805 to 1810. Bethel Church is about eleven miles south of Staunton and perhaps four miles from the Alexander McPheeters land. The present building is a modern brick structure and the adjoining cemetery is well cared for. There are buried Robert McPheeters and his family, their graves well marked. The oldest grave there is of the son of William McPheeters #49 who died in infancy in 1806.

Published Genealogies are extremely valuable to the genealogist. He hardly expects to find his family already written up, but he hopes that some branches of it may have been touched upon in the records of other families. The tendency is to accept such printed matter as true beyond any doubt, since it has been put down as truth by some other genealogist. Indeed, only proven facts belong in any family history, printed or otherwise. So I have accepted such data at its face value unless I had good reason to question it.

My first searchings for the colonial beginnings of our family revealed the fact that the family of William McPheeters had kept careful records of which more will be said later. But the only published account that I found at the beginning of my search, pertaining to the Alexander McPheeters family of colonial Virginia, was contained in "Genealogical History of the Descendants of John Walker of Wigton, Scotland" by E. S. White, published in 1902. On page 5 the author lists the children of Alexander McPheeters #2 followed by-a very sketchy account of his son Robert, naming his children.

The only other member of the Alexander family that is mentioned in the Walker Genealogy is his son James #15. It is related that the British Parliament passed a special act in the 1850s laying aside certain monies for the benefit of the heirs of John Campbell, rightful Duke of Argyle, who had been forced to leave Scotland at the time of the religious persecutions. This John Campbell was the grandfather of James McPheeters and the line was traced at that time by a family in Bloomington, Indiana claiming direct descent through James' daughter Martha. This is the only child of James named in the Walker book, but the statement that she married Samuel Orchard in 1830 was, for me, the key statement on the whole page of printed matter. This definitely linked the McPheeters families of southern Indiana to the Virginia Alexander line, for I already knew of this James whose two daughters, Jane and Martha, had married two Orchard brothers.

James McPheeters #15 probably remained in Augusta County until after his father died. His older brothers, Alexander and John, were thought to have gone to Kentucky already. James married Polly Crockett in Clark County, Kentucky, in 1802. He sold his share of the Virginia plantation to his brother Robert on October 26, 1812, containing 215 acres.

The recent popularizing of Davy Crockett brought forth the suggestion from several descendants, that they "thought that Polly was a sister of Davy." This is a good example of the haze that clouds family tradition and the ease of jumping at conclusions. In the chapter on "Related Lines", it is shown that they were cousins. The source of this data also lists the children of James McPheeters and Polly Crockett and some descendants of their daughter Martha McPheeters Orchard.

Records in Southern Indiana do not show when James and Polly may have lived there. A highly complicating factor in searching Washington County records at Salem, Indiana, was that James had a nephew there of the same name, only 11 years younger, and his wife was also named Polly. The only sure date of James McPheeters #15 in Washington County was 1822 when his daughter Jane married John Orchard. Finally, a clue to his subsequent whereabouts turned up in an unexpected manner.

A telephone directory search in St. Louis found several McPheeters among those listed who were able to help with my work. One of them referred me to Mrs. Webb Pell and Mrs. W. E. Walker of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. As soon as I saw the name James Alexander Crockett McPhaeters in the data they sent, I knew that here were some of the descendents of James #15. They gave me more names and addresses and soon the line of this family emerged. Paul D. McPheeters of Peoria referred me to his sister, Mrs. Addie Pool of Fulton County, Illinois, who had the family Bible of James #15 as well as other records and old papers. An old letter dated 1844 is copied in full in the chapter on "Documents".

In the Newberry Library, Chicago, is a little book called "Canton., Pioneers and History" by Swan, published in 1871. Among those listed as voting to make Canton (Fulton County, Illinois) a town in 1837 were James, Robert, John and Alexander McPheeters. The early history of the First Presbyterian Church in Canton is also mentioned in this little book giving some of the members in 1830 as James, Mary, Robert, Eliza, Ann, John, Alexander, Elizabeth and William McPheeters.

On a visit to Canton I was privileged to examine the original records of this church. Names of members, records of baptisms, dates of acquisitions and dismissals were invaluable. This record should certainly be preserved in a more permanent form than its present fragile state. In fact, church records from the early days are full of vital information that should be properly duplicated and made available for study. They often contain data of frontier days that cannot be found anywhere else.

From the Canton library and the cemetery I collected more details. According to the old church records, James McPheeters #15 and wife Mary (Polly) were dismissed November 11, 1851, but no destination was named. At any rate, they probably went to Bloomington, Indiana, for they died there and are buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, their monuments showing clearly the dates of their deaths and ages.

You may think that this account of the eight children of Alexander #2 is being told in a most un-chronological order, taking the seventh, then the eighth child, and now skipping back to the sixth. But the logic of such procedure will be evident. Having just explained about families of McPheeters’ who lived in Fulton County, Illinois, in the 1830s, it is convenient to deal next with another child of Alexander #2 who also lived there, namely Rebecca.

Rebecca McPheeters #13 married Robert C. Culton in Rockbridge County, Virginia, in 1796. When I found the name of Robert C. Culton and other Cultons in the early history of Fulton County, Illinois, along with the McPheeters families as related above, it caught my attention. When I was told by living descendants of both names still in that locality that they thought they were distant cousins, I was encouraged in forming a hypothesis about Rebecca.

A favorite device in ancestor hunting is to work from a hypothesis. If a few facts point to a possible development, but the proof is lacking, one may plot a likely solution; then working both known ends of the line toward the middle, he may narrow down the search and the exact data is more easily found and the puzzle solved. Such was my method in tracing the line of Rebecca McPheeters Culton.

It was significant that Robert C. Culton,, Mary Ann Culton, John J. Culton and Abigail Culton should be members of the early Presbyterian Church in Canton, along with the McPheeters'. In those days family ties were very close; they held families together in matters of civil and religious affairs. The old church record covers the trying times when congregations everywhere were divided over the issue of "old church" and "new church". In this difference of opinion were listed those in favor of "old church" as follows; James McPheeters, Mary McPheeters, Robert McPheeters, Eliza Ann McPheeters, John McPheeters, Alexander McPheeters, Elizabeth McPheeters, William McPheeters, Robert C. Culton, Mary Ann Culton, Elizabeth Henderson, John J. Culton, Abigail Culton, Rebecca Henderson, Archibald Henderson, Joseph M. Kelso, Nancy Kelso. (and four other names) all recorded by James McPheeters, Clerk of the Session. The conservative McPheeters’, their families and in-laws held firm and made up almost all of the "old Church" adherents.

Living in Canton now is Willis Culton whom I found to be interested and very helpful. To him and his wife Margaret I owe the rare opportunity of seeing the old church records already mentioned. They took me to the minister who loaned us the precious documents overnight and we sat in the Culton living room until a late hour going over every word and reading aloud some of the quaint minutes of the Session telling about their concern over those who needed to be "disciplined".

These Illinois Cultons were traced back into Washington County, Indiana, where three of Rebecca's children were married in the 1820s. They lived in or near Livonia, the home of a whole cluster of McPheeters', nephews of Rebecca McPheeters Culton, and their large families.

In Bourbon County records at Paris, Kentucky, I found the estate record of Robert C. Culton, husband of Rebecca. In Court Book E. page 229, under the date of May 1814, is recorded that Rebecca Culton, widow of Robert Culton, relinquished right of administrator to Alexander McPheeters, her "children being infants under age of 21"; security Hugh McPheeters and John C. McPheeters (two of her nephews who went to Washington County, Indiana). It was a keen disappointment to find the "infant children" not listed by name. There was not even the usual court order concerning guardianship of the minor children whose father had died which would have given that very desirable information. The estate was appraised in June 1814 by Alexander McPheeters at $367.97, listed in Will Book E., page 93.

The Cultons appear to have lived in various places between 1796, the date of their marriage, and 1814, the date of Robert's death. The biography of their son Robert in "History of Fulton County, Illinois" published in 1879 by Chapman, says that he was born in Maryville, Tennessee in 1804. Family records of another son, John J. Culton, state that he was born in Tennessee in 1806.

After the death of her husband, Rebecca McPheeters Culton married a Mr. Henderson, according to a letter from Mrs. Julia Graves in Alaska to whom I am indebted for the very fine data on John J. Culton #38. Mrs. Graves also wrote that Rebecca was known to her family in central Illinois as "Grandma Henderson" and that she lived to a ripe old age. She was the Rebecca Henderson in the old Canton church records. That name also appears in Court records in Washington County, Indiana, coupled with her son-in-law Joseph M. Kelso. No record of her marriage to Mr. Henderson has been found, nor any account of what became of him.

Proof of the children of Rebecca McPheeters Culton Henderson has not been found in the usual manner such as Bible records or county records. I am reasonably certain, however, that they are listed correctly in the pages of this genealogy. Scraps of evidence picked up from. various sources amply support this conclusion. By way of example, Robert C. Culton #31 went into business with his "brother-in-law Arch Henderson", (husband of Elizabeth Culton"); he also "went into merchandising" with his nephew J. W. Culton" (son of Alexander M. Culton #25), etc.

The place of death and burial of Rebecca #13 is still not known. I feel that it could be found eventually in central Illinois. The date was after 1861 and she must have been in her 90s.

Other Daughters of Alexander #2 were Martha, Jane and Ann. Of the first two nothing is known beyond their being mentioned in their father’s will in 1798. Ann McPheeters married Samuel Downey in 1794. I did not attempt to follow this Downey family; no doubt a search of Augusta County records would yield some information that could be the basis of tracing this family tree.

John McPheeters #9 is buried at Horner's Chapel in Washington County, Indiana. In 1931 a D.A.R. marker was placed there indicating that he was a Revolutionary War soldier. The historian for this occasion was Mrs. John L. Martin who lives on the original farm of John McPheeters and who has been active in county historical affairs for many years. She wrote to my father, Thaddeus McPheeters #726 thinking that he was a descendant of soldier John. While my father was sure that his great grandfather James was not a son of John #9, he could not offer proof because his family records did not go back any farther than James. This incident aroused his interest enough that he wrote down all that he knew about his ancestry, as well as all that he could recall of family tradition. Not being in a position to enter the ancestor search actively, he had to be content with some ineffectual correspondence and got exactly nowhere. Some years later when I was looking through my father's personal effects and papers, I became interested in his notes on family history and decided to see what could be done about the family tree.

The place to begin in building a family tree is to gather known facts about the current generations, and as far back as is known at the time. The first compelling problem for me was to seek for the father of James #19, my great, great grandfather. Since it had been suggested that he was a son of John #9, 1 started by finding all I could about the family of John and especially his son James.

Mrs. John L. Martin was a great help here. She told me all that she knew about John’s family and made available to me all the material that she had gathered for the D.A.R. ceremony, but she knew little of the two eldest sons, Alexander and James. They had left home before their father had died and James had gone later to Wisconsin. From the standpoint of dates, my ancestor James could have been the son of John #9, but he certainly did not go to Wisconsin. So I searched Washington County records for three full days, The books were full of McPheeters’ and there were obviously a dozen or more different men named James McPheeters living in that county between 1820 and 1840! This was most baffling. It took some months and even years to untangle this maze and I even have a few left over to this day.

James McPheeters #29., the son of John #9, married Betsy Royse in Washington County, Indiana in 1829. Deed records showed that they moved to McDonough County, Illinois, before 1837. At this point in my search, a letter came from Walter F. McPheeters of Long Beach, California, in which he showed his descent from one James of Richland County, Wisconsin. A hasty trip to the Wisconsin and Illinois counties involved indicated that this was the same James, son of John #9. That fact, along with other data, disposed of any supposition that my ancestor was that James, at the same time adding James #29 to his proper place in the family tree.

Alexander McPheeters #26 was the other son of John #9 whose later whereabouts were not known. It developed that he died on his farm near Livonia in Washington County where my folks had also settled. Of course people confused him with the other families in that area and today some will insist that he was identical with my great grandfather Dr. Alexander. Two sons of Alexander #26, James and John, went to Orange County on Lost River. Now the descendants of "Lost River John" meet every June at Bond’s Chapel near Huron for a McPheeters Reunion. Through their excellent cooperation I have a good account of this family. The older generations are recorded in the Garr Family genealogy kindly loaned to me by Everett and Cora Pruett who still live in that locality.

But to get back to the Revolutionary soldier John, the father of James and Alexander that caused this lengthy digression, John was born in 1758 in Augusta County, Virginia. His marriage to Margaret Anderson in 1787 is recorded in the First Marriage Record of Augusta County. Some time later they moved to Bourbon County, Kentucky, then in 1809 to the territory of Indiana where he settled on the east fork of Blue River near the present town of Fredericksburg. In 1813 he built a large frame grist and sawmill, four stories high which was operated for more than 80 years after his death. The first school taught in Washington County was in a deserted cabin near Blue Spring, on John's farm, in 1809. Horner's Chapel where John is buried stands at one corner of the farm on ground given by Jacob Horner, father of Elizabeth who married John’s son Robert.

John McPheeters #9 bequeathed the bulk of his estate including the mill and farm to his son Robert who also was to inherit items left to John's widow upon her death. He was to care for his unmarried sister Rebecca and "if at any time she should go elsewhere, to provide her with horse and saddle". John’s estate was of considerable extent for those days and Robert, besides being favored, was named executor. Widow Margaret and some of the children became very bitter and took the matter to court having him removed as executor, and when she died some five years later the estate was still in litigation. This estrangement explains why Margaret is buried at Palmyra and left only 2 cents to Robert in her will. However, the dispute over his father’s will was finally settled and Robert came into his inheritance.

Recollections of Robert McPheeters #32 from a letter of his granddaughter, Mrs. Lela Hainey Greenslade: "Grandfather was known for miles around as ‘Uncle Bobbie’. Men would drive their load of corn and wheat to the mill to be ground and always stayed until it was ready for them, as Uncle Bobbie made them welcome at his table and the spacious barns had plenty of hay they could sleep on. No doubt they stayed as long as they could. Grandma made a barrel of apple butter, a barrel of sauerkraut, maple sugar and syrup, and sorghum molasses by the barrel, meats of all kinds, milk and butter, all in great quantities. All the clothing was made at home, linen from flax, spun, dyed and woven at home. Wool from sheep was spun and woven into blankets and cloth for all their clothing. Cooking was done mostly by the fireplace." This description would fit many of the homes of that day and locality. These hardy pioneer women provided for their families from the material at hand.

Alexander McPheeters #8 the first of the eight children of Alexander #2 was the most difficult one to trace. After the history of his three brothers had been determined and their descendants charted, there still remained this Alexander about whom very little information was available. It was known that he was born before 1761 the date of his grandfather's will. He was probably married before 1786 because his name was not in the First Marriage Book of Augusta County which began at that date. It was likely that he had gone to Kentucky with his brother John before 1798, the date of their father's will. This was the limit of the data at hand about Alexander #8. So in this case, as with his sister Rebecca, it was necessary to work back from the current generations hoping to find the connecting link.

About 1816, four McPheeters men and their families moved from Kentucky to Washington County, Indiana, and helped establish the town of Livonia. Alexander #17, James #19 and John C. #20 with some 60 of their descendants are buried in the cemetery there, the largest concentration of McPheeters graves known to me. Hugh #18 is buried at Salem, the county seat. It was known that James and John C. were brothers, and some said that the other two were also their brothers. Their birth dates of 1782, 1785, 1788 and 1790 indicated they were a generation later than John #9 of Washington County, but they were not his sons. It appeared not only possible but highly likely that they could be the sons of John's brother Alexander #8. Working from this hypothesis, I searched records in southern Indiana and the part of Kentucky from which these four men had come.

Deed-Records are among the most valuable sources of genealogical data. Besides showing where a person lived (usually), the deed had to be signed by both man and wife. If they had removed to a new location, then sold the land, their new county and state would be named. If the owner had died, the disposal of the land would be an estate matter and the deed would name all the heirs, their places of residence and proportionate share of the estate.

The definite proof that linked the unknown Alexander #8 to the Washington County brothers was contained in a deed. In 1819, a parcel of land was bought in Orange County, Indiana, by Alexander McPheeters of Jessamine County, Kentucky. This same land was sold in 1839 by the heirs of Alexander as recorded in Orange County Deed Records, book 16, page 31 and is quoted in chapter on "Documents". Besides naming the four mentioned above, James, John C., the heirs of Hugh and Alexander #17 who had died, this deed showed that Alexander #8 had four more children, two sons Robert and William living in Callaway County, Missouri, and a daughter Margaret in Woodford County, Kentucky; another daughter had died and her heirs were listed, living in Woodford County and Callaway County. Estate records in Jessamine County, Kentucky, confirmed the heirship of this generation in the family tree, completing the line of descent from the colonial beginnings to the present.

"The Henderson Chronicles", published in 1915, was loaned to me by Miss Ema McPheeters of Mexico, Missouri. This little book furnished most of the data on the descendants of Robert and William McPheeters of Callaway County, Missouri. Their mother was Florence Henderson, second wife of Alexander McPheeters #8.

Much of my interest in beginning and continuing my family research is due to the encouragement of my mother's brother, Will H. Mitchell of Indianapolis. He had gathered some old Bible records and given copies to the D.A.R. and among them was the record from my great grandfather’s Bible. This record was seen by Mrs. Josephine McKee Green living in Richmond, Virginia, who wrote to Mr. Mitchell asking if he could help her contact any descendants of that McPheeters because she hoped to learn more about her ancestor Mary McPheeters Hutchison. Now this Mary was the daughter of Alexander #8 who had preceded her father in death, her children being listed on the deed mentioned above. Mrs. Green was a very ready correspondent and her long-time interest in her family history made her a valuable source of detailed and accurate information.

Examination of Jessamine County records at Nicholasville was not altogether satisfactory. Alexander #8 bought land there in 1819 on Hickman Creek for $12000. He seems to have been a man of considerable means, his personal estate having been appraised at $3763. The appraisal covers two and a half pages in Will Book F, page 122, dated November 1838 and includes 3 slaves. He was one of the first elders in the Nicholasville Presbyterian Church organized in 1830. The old cemetery there has been replaced with buildings so I was unable to locate his grave from which I had hoped to obtain dates. Bourbon County records show that he bought land there on Green Creek in 1809 and sold it in 1817. Perhaps he made a visit to Indiana in 1819 and bought the land there as an investment. At any rate, I am personally grateful that he left his name in Orange County records where I could discover it more than a hundred years later.

"Cousin" is a very elastic term. To say that the two Scotch-Irish settlers in old Virginia, William and Alexander McPheeters were "cousins" may have meant that their fathers were brothers, or the relationship may have been more remote. Since the traditional origin of the McPheeters name ante-dated these two men by only a few generations, it would seem that their relationship was really rather close. Following this line of reasoning, we might also conclude that today, two centuries later, the various McPheeters families are all related, more or less remotely, all springing from the original Peter Hume of Scotland. On this assumption, I have kept in my records all information I have found about anyone with the name McPheeters. Most of this material has fitted into one of four lines; Alexander, William, John Conrad or Andrew. The actual connection between these lines has not been determined. Since my personal interest lay in the completion of the Alexander line, I concentrated my efforts there and made little effort to develop the other three. However, what information has come my way from correspondence and published records is included in the last pages of this geneology and should prove of some interest and value.

William McPheeters #Wl was born in Ireland. He married Rebecca Thompson and seven years later migrated to Pennsylvania. After several years they moved to Augusta County, Virginia, where they spent the rest of their days. William and Rebecca had ten children and were the progenitors of ministers and educators known throughout the south. The Walker Genealogy already mentioned devotes considerable space to the history of this family.

William McPheeters #W49, a grandson of #W1, compiled a register of his family in 1842. This interesting and lengthy manuscript has been quoted and copied in a number of books and periodicals and doubtless is familiar to many who read these lines. It relates the traditional origin of the McPheeters name and tells about the early generations in this country.

Dr. Samuel B. McPheeters #W113, a son of William #49, was a controversial figure in the Presbyterian Church during the Civil War period. The full story of his case is related in "Memoir of Rev. S. B. McPheeters" by Grasty, published in 1871. Twenty-nine pages of this book is devoted to the 1842 manuscript of William #49 and makes interesting reading.

Samuel McPheeters #W9 is barely mentioned in the above manuscript. This is the only one in that generation that is not dealt with in detail. It simply states that he "married Margaret Searight and went to Holstein where he died, an elder in the church; they had 7 children.” A few years ago, Andrew 0. McPheeters of Fairdealing.. Missouri, and James H. McPheeters of Inglewood, California, wrote me about a history of their family published in 1942 "The Scism and Allied Families" by Deloss M. Scism. This book states that Samuel McPheeters #W9 lived at what became known as "McPheeters Bend" on the Holston River in Tennessee. Only 3 of his children are listed in the book, one of them being Samuel Jr. whose two daughters married Scism men.

Andrew McPheeters #A1 is designated in my record as head of a separate line. While he was born in Pennsylvania, his Revolutionary War record shows his first enlistment from that state and his second from North Carolina. He married first in Georgia and his children and some grandchildren were born in Georgia and northeastern Tennessee. He could have been a son of Samuel #W9 in the William McPheeters line. But this is purely conjecture on my part, entirely without attempt at proof.

John Conrad McPheeters #Jl is likewise treated in these pages as a separate line. From scraps of evidence gathered from records in Woodford County, Kentucky, and Lewis County. Missouri, we might see the possibility that John Conrad was a son of William McPheeters #W36. A more thorough search along this direction might be very rewarding, but in the light of the facts at hand this family must still stand alone.

Unattached to any of the above lines is a McPheeters family in Canada. Mrs. John E. McPheeters of Toronto writes that her husband's grandfather Duncan was born and educated in Scotland. He taught school in Ontario, had one son and three daughters. This family is the last one in the pages on Genealogy.

0ther spellings present a complication. While I suspect a common origin, most of these families today stoutly maintain that their name has never been spelled any other way. It is well to note here that my family name is spelled several ways in the old Virginia records, sometimes using the F instead of Ph., one e or ea instead of ee. 

McPheters families appear in Maine records. In the 1870 Census of Penobscot County there are 12 families of that name. From the ages given, four men were born around 1800 and the place of birth is given in Maine for every name.

McFeeters families have been found in several places. William R. McFeeters of Swanton, Vermont, and his sister Mrs. Ruth Megert of Kezar Falls, Maine, have sent full particulars about their family. Their grandfather William was born in Ireland in 1808 and came to Vermont with his parents, James and Ann
(McFee) McFeeters in 1827. Part of this family appears in the 1850 Census of Sheldon, Vermont, spelled McFeters.

A few isolated McFeaters and otherwise variously spelled names have found their way into my letter files, most of them claiming a fairly recent migration from Ireland.

Now, my dear readers of Scotch blood, may I appeal to your natural instincts of thrift and good sense?  I am sure you will agree with me that this book is no place to fill extra pages with speculations about these might-be-related-through-differently-spelled names.  And though I would like to be generous with those who have been generous in giving their information to me, it is hardly practicable to give their genealogical data here in detail.  If any of you is interested in this phase of my explorations, please feel free to write me.  Perhaps you too will be bitten by this ancestor-hunting bug and decide to trace all these lines back to Ireland and Scotland and prove eventually that, no matter how we spell our names, we are all from the original William Mac Peter, the son of Peter Hume.